A new report from the University of Idaho touts the economic importance of agriculture in central Idaho’s Magic Valley.
Agribusiness exports directly or indirectly create a third of jobs in the six-county area, the U of I Extension analysis says. Those exports also directly or indirectly create two thirds of Magic Valley businesses’ sales, with the dairy processing industry contributing the largest share.
“Idaho is the third largest dairy state in the nation, and 70 percent of those cows are in the Magic Valley,” explains agricultural economist and report co-author Garth Taylor.
Taylor says the last analysis of agriculture in Twin Falls, Jerome, Gooding, Lincoln, Minidoka and Cassia counties was done about ten years ago. “Dairy is well over a third of the cash receipts of agriculture in Idaho,” he says. “It’s the 900 pound gorilla, and that 900 pound gorilla is caged in the Magic Valley. And it’s grown tremendously over the last decade.”
While agriculture directly contributes between four and five percent of gross state product, Taylor favors a more liberal accounting of agriculture’s impact in Idaho. Farmers bring new money into the economy by exporting their products, he says. And that, he maintains, is what’s important. “It’s how those exports ripple through the economy,” he says.
Taylor’s analysis of agriculture’s contribution to the state economy is available here.